Holidays can be especially difficult while mourning the loss of a significant person in your life, and we may feel shut down. When that happens, it sometimes helps us to think about what choices we do have about the holidays. Bruce Conley created a helpful handout called “Holiday Planner.” He encourages us to think about the areas of choices that we do have, such as the following:
The family meal
Shopping for gifts
Giving to charities
Baking and cooking
Entertaining at home
And with the current pandemic, I would add that mitigations at any given time restrict some of our choices, but we still do have choices in many of the areas.
Bruce encourages us to ask ourselves the following six questions:
- Do you know WHY you do it? Tradition? Habit? Choice? Obligation?
- Does it matter WHERE you do it?
- Does it matter WHEN you do it?
- Does it matter HOW it is done?
- Does it matter WHO does it?
- Do you WANT to change it?
You may want to look at it as, “Is this meaningful for me?” Keep in mind, you can change it for this year, and make an entirely different decision next year.
The next step, according to Kenneth Doka (TAPS Magazine, Winter 2020), is to communicate your choices with others. Their way of grieving may be different, which leads us to the third step, compromise. “Each person deals with loss in his or her own particular way and therefore has different needs. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Leaving space for compromise is important.”
“Nothing changes the fact that the holidays can be especially difficult while grieving.” But if you choose your actions, communicate your choices to others, and find suitable compromises, you may find that they become bearable and that you have renewed strength and hope.” Doka calls these the Three C’s for Holiday Grief.